Ruth Kuhfahl died at age 99 on March 22, 2023 and her indomitable spirit will be greatly missed. Her story is the perfect example of the importance of capturing the stories of our elders, according to Jery Huntley, OurStoryBridge, Inc. President.
“We in the Town of Keene mourn a life well lived and a spirit that can guide us all into our elder years,” said Huntley.
Listen to “Almost 98 and Still Kickin” by Ruth Kuhfahl, an interview with Jery Huntley on July 9, 2021 at this link: https://app.memria.org/stories/public-story-view/29fa4c3cb94345a1bd795c7755bb43a5/
(Story #2 of our sharing series shared with permission from Adirondack Community, courtesy of OurStoryBridge, Inc.)
The Adirondack Almanack will share stories written by those who live, work, and play in the ADK, courtesy of OurStoryBridge/Freedom Story Project. These stories, which will be a combination of current and past events, people, outdoor activities and more, will be published on a weekly basis. The stories will focus on various locations situated in the Adirondack region, including the High Peaks, the town of Keene, and many other areas around the Park. Stories are compartmentalized into the following categories, arts & culture, catastrophes, work, people, outdoor activities, daily life, community, and natural & man-made environments.
Please see automated transcript of the story below:
Jery Huntley: So, who am I interviewing today?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Ruth Kuhfahl.
Jery Huntley: So tell me a little bit about what's special about you, Ruth.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, I’ve lived to this advanced age and I’m still kicking.
Jery Huntley: So what is this advanced age?
Ruth Kuhfahl: I’m almost 98.
Jery Huntley: Very cool. So tell me about Keene Valley. When did you move to Keene Valley?
Ruth Kuhfahl: In 1989, I moved when I retired from the State University of New York at Buffalo and
said, “Where will I go now?” Keene Valley was the only place I thought about.
Jery Huntley: How did you hear about Keene Valley?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Because since 1973, I had gotten into the Adirondack Mountain Club and we came up to Keene Valley a lot and I was very familiar with the area.
Jery Huntley: So had you climbed a lot of the High Peaks?
Ruth Kuhfahl: I’m only a 22-er.
Jery Huntley: Well, you know what, you got a lot of years ahead of you to finish it off.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, been there, done that. Don’t need to keep doing it.
Jery Huntley: Okay. That’s all right. You’ve had some great accomplishments.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Thank you.
Jery Huntley: When you think of Keene Valley, what do you love the most about it?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, the people, because they’re like family. If you need anything, there are several people that are ready and willing to say, “Ruth, let me help.”
Jery Huntley: Even though you don’t live here now, where are you now?
Ruth Kuhfahl: At Will Rogers Senior Residence. That’s like going home to mother too.
Ruth Kuhfahl: They take care of you like you’re part of the family.
Jery Huntley: But your Keene friends still stay in touch and help you?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Yeah. They’re wonderful.
Jery Huntley: That’s great. Several of them, the Isabel Six, that we’ll talk about in a second, even brought you here to tell your story.
Ruth Kuhfahl: I’m just doing what I’m told.
Jery Huntley: So when you look back, do you think there would have been any other better place for you to live these years?
Ruth Kuhfahl: No, I really don’t. Keene Valley was absolutely what I wanted. Now, Will Rogers is absolutely where I should be.
Jery Huntley: What do you miss most about Keene Valley?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, I miss most not being able to do the things that I loved for all those years, the skiing, the hiking, the swimming, Chapel Pond was wonderful for a little dip. So, it is what
it is. My son says that, “It is what it is, Mom. You did all those things. You can’t do them now.”
Jery Huntley: I heard you did a lot of volunteer work. Can you give me an example?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, I have done it, but of course that’s another one of the things that kind of dies as you get all that much older. But, I have been very happy to volunteer wherever I could that would be helpful and lead trips, hiking trips, and canoe trips.
Jery Huntley: I heard you help man the trails and build the trails too.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, that trail work has been one of my big loves, and I’ve done trail work not only in the North Country, but in several spots, not quite worldwide, but almost.
Jery Huntley: Your friends who are part of Isabel Six brought you here. Tell me about Isabel Six.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Isabel Six are the most amazing group of young women. We got together accidentally and realized that we were, I think, we realized that we were all pretty unique and we’ve
stayed together ever since.
Jery Huntley: What’s the biggest activity you do together?
Ruth Kuhfahl: Talk on the phone at this stage of the game.
Jery Huntley: I heard for over 20 years, you canoed together.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Yes, we did.
Jery Huntley: And did overnights.
Ruth Kuhfahl: We canoed overnight and camps, and hiking wasn’t one of the big things we did, but we did some of it, and cross-country skiing. We did a lot of things together.
Jery Huntley: That’s great. Let’s see. Well, the youngest person in the Isabel Six is about how old?
Ruth Kuhfahl: 65, 69.
Jery Huntley: When you started, right? So now it’s early eighties.
Ruth Kuhfahl: Well, yeah, one of them said, “I’m having my 80th birthday, Ruth, and that was the year that you were the low man on the totem pole when we hiked and now I’m your age then.
Jery Huntley: As we tie up, I just want to say that we in Keene are happy that you’re almost 98 and still kicking, and we will await your next story. Thank you very much.
Ruth Kuhfahl: You’re welcome. It’s nice to be here.
Visit www.myadirondackstory.org to hear more.
Those who wish to contribute to OurStoryBridge, Inc. can find more information on how to share a story of their own and create their own OurStoryBridge by utilizing tool kits at the link here.
About OurStoryBridge, Inc.:
OurStoryBridge is a national project, led by a team of volunteers and implemented at the grassroots level by local libraries, historical societies, museums, and issue oriented organizations, that supports the creation of three- to five-minute, locally created audio stories with related photographs, as well as their online accessibility, by posting them on a website that appeals to both young and old and can be produced at low cost.
About Adirondack Community:
Sponsored by the Keene Valley Library, Adirondack Community is a multi-year local history project that collects and organizes audio stories and related photographs from town of Keene community members through this online platform to share our rich social and cultural history in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains.
Photo at top: Ruth Kuhfahl. Photo by Jeri Wright. Photo courtesy of OurStoryBridge, Inc.
Ruth – Your presence has lit up so many events and times past that I am missing you already – and bless you for all you have done for your community of Keene, the Adirondacks, and far beyond.